Love Live! Sunshine!! – Ep. 1

Damn you, Yohane.

Yesterday, I finished my episode reviews for Love Live! Nijigasaki High School Idol Club Season 1. I was mostly focused on just that but I was thinking to myself on how to proceed with the franchise after that. I mainly focus on covering shows that started airing when I started my blog so I figured if I was to keep going with the Love Live! coverage, I’d focus on Nijigasaki and its successor/companion Love Live! Superstar!!. Both shows have the added incentive of relevancy as they’re both continuing in some fashion, be it recently or in the foreseeable future. Complicating things is Love Live! Sunshine!!, the second series in the franchise. Sunshine!! concluded its run in 2019 but it is receiving a new spin-off series this summer, titled Yohane of the Parhelion: Sunshine in the Mirror. I originally considered passing on covering Yohane as I haven’t seen Sunshine!! and I’d feel weird covering the spin-off without covering the parent show. After thinking it over however, I’ve decided that I’ll finally watch Sunshine!! and cover it in episode reviews so that I can cover Yohane during the summer. This isn’t without risks. Adding Sunshine!! to the list means I have even more Love Live! to blog about. I also have to cover two seasons and a movie before July (it’s currently late April). That said, it could be fun so here goes nothing.

Something to point out with Sunshine!! is that it is technically a sequel to the original School Idol Project series. Sunshine!! is confirmed to take place some time after the original and the show makes a couple of references to the original, starting with the first episode. It’s not like its successors which, as far as I can tell, are self-contained and vaguely take place in the same universe. I have seen some of the School Idol Project and I’m pretty familiar with the OG cast from playing the now defunct School Idol Festival game (R.I.P.). Ideally, I should’ve finished it before getting to Sunshine!! but so far, the connections to the original series are pretty loose so I think I’ll be fine with watching Sunshine!! on its own.

Sunshine‘s main girl is Chika Takami (Anju Inami), a second year at Uranohoshi Girls’ Academy in the seaside town of Uchiura. During a trip to the city, Chika sees a video of school idol group μ’s (never heard of them) and becomes inspired to become a school idol herself to overcome her insecurity that she’s normal and talentless. Unfortunately for Chika, she doesn’t have much luck in recruiting members to her newly formed school idol club. The only girl who joins is her best friend You Watanabe (Nanaka Suwa). Hindering progress is the student council president Dia Kurosawa (Arisa Komiya), who tells Chika that she won’t approve of a school idol club even if it checks off the minimum requirement of five members. Along the way, Chika has a chance encounter with Riko Sakurauchi, a transfer student from Tokyo’s Otonokizaka Academy (never heard of it) and a struggling pianist. When Chika learns that Riko is transferring to Uranohoshi, she asks Riko to join the idol club, only for Riko to decline the offer.

As of the first episode, the most prominent characters in the plot are Chika, Riko, and You and so far, I’m liking the trinity. Chika and Riko’s first encounter with each other is by far the highlight of the episode. There’s an interesting contrast with their motivations. Chika wants to be a school idol to prove that even a normal person such as her can shine while Riko is talented and just can’t seem to reignite her passion for said talent. Hearing Chika strive to be a school idol proves to be motivating for Riko, which makes it all the more surprising when she declines Chika’s offer to join the currently nonexistent school idol club. You meanwhile doesn’t have a standout moment this episode but she’s very easy to like. Befitting of the best friend character, You helps Chika with recruiting people and she ultimately joins the club in spite of her swimming club duties because she wants to do something fun with Chika. What’s not to like about this girl?

While Chika, Riko, and You are the forefront of the plot, the first episode does introduce the other main characters. As mentioned earlier, there’s Dia the student council president. It’s no secret that she eventually joins the idol club so her resistance to its existence is intriguing. While recruiting in vain, Chika and You meet best friends Hanamaru Kunikida (Kanako Takatsuki) and Ruby Kurosawa (Ai Furihata). The latter appears to be particularly and comically shy. All four characters are then interrupted by Yoshiko Tsushima a.k.a. Yohane (Aika Kobayashi). Aside from the fact that she is singlehandedly reviving Sunshine and making me play catch-up, this girl seems to have a major case of chuunibyou. She also appears to have some history with Hanamaru. Last but not least, we have Kanan Matsuura (Nanaka Suwa) and Mari Ohara (Aina Suzuki). Kanan is a childhood friend of Chika who is taking a temporary leave from school to look after her family’s shop while her grandfather is healing from an injury. Curiously, she makes a solemn response when Chika tells her she wants to be a school idol. Mari just has a cameo this episode though she is apparently returning to Uchiura after two years and it’s implied that her and Kanan have some history with each other. Judging by Kanan’s tone, it doesn’t sound like she and Mari are on good terms.

Even though there currently is no idol club, it wouldn’t be Love Live! without an insert song so we get treated to a music video scene performed by Chika, Riko, and You. The diegesis of this scene is a bit all over the place. It happens right after Chika asks Riko to join the club and the show does incorporate their classroom and classmates into the scene. However, this is obviously not how the scene plays out in reality and even if it does, there’s a huge continuity error as Chika, Riko, and You are somehow teleported outside to one of the school’s courtyards and all three of them already have a song to sing and dance to when they technically haven’t done any school idol work at this point. It very much is a music video which I’m admittedly used to seeing. Nijigasaki Season 1 had this problem as well so I’m guessing this is just par for the course with Love Live!. I can deal with it so long as the music good and to this show’s credit, it is catchy as always. The use of CGI is a bit rough but I kind of figured that would be the case beforehand. This is anime we’re talking about and Sunshine!! Season 1 is from 2016. I’ll also admit that it’s way more noticeable after coming from Nijigasaki Season 1, which I’m now realizing had way more seamless CGI for its music performances.

Definitely the funniest part about the insert song is the inclusion of Riko. You have Riko singing and dancing with the others, only to then cut to reality where she rejects Chika’s offer to be school idols together. Obviously, Riko is going to join the club but I am curious what her reasoning is right now. I doubt it’s anything personal with Chika so I’m guessing it has something to do with her creative block.

Watch Love Live! Sunshine!! on Crunchyroll, Funimation, Tubi, and VRV (via Crunchyroll)

2 thoughts on “Love Live! Sunshine!! – Ep. 1

  1. Yes
    Great post! I love how you’re contemplating which Love Live! series to cover and how you’re taking on the challenge of catching up before the summer. Speaking of which, I’m curious – what made you decide to go with Yohane for the spin-off series to cover, especially given that it has a connection to Sunshine!!?


    1. I don’t have any fancy reasons as to why I plan on covering the Yohane spin-off. I’ve just grown to like blogging about Love Live and, regardless of how the show itself turns out, I think an isekai spin-off with Yoshiko as the protagonist is pretty clever and sounds interesting.


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